McCall is a great place for recreation and family fun. But over the past 15 years it also has become a creative retreat for Idaho and national theater artists, who come to the picturesque mountain town to create new work for the American stage.
The conference brings eminent, emerging and student playwrights together with actors, directors, designers, dramaturges and an audience.
This summer Seven Devils brings back Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award nominee Lee Blessing, who came as a mentor in 2001 and as a guest artist in 2013. Blessing will further develop his latest play, “Minneapolis/St. Paul,” a dramady about a man who is married to a woman in Minneapolis, and lives a dual life as a woman married to a man in St. Paul.
Other featured playwrights include Boise’s Jenny Sternling with her new play “Breathe Me” and Nebraska-based Noah Diaz with “The Motherhood Almanac.”
If you love the process of theater, this is an amazing opportunity to see burgeoning ideas of some of the best American playwrights as you listen in on discussions, offer feedback at post-reading talks and interact with the artists on a variety of levels. All events are free.
“The next movement in theater has to be outside of major metropolitan areas,” says Jeni Mahoney, who co-founded Seven Devils in 2001 with McCall’s id Theatre artistic director Sheila McDevitt.
Though most theatrical development happens on the coasts, there is an evolving scene in unexpected places, such as Fayetteville, Ark., Lousiville, Ky., and McCall.
It now boasts plays that have gone on to successes, including Idaho native Sam Hunter’s 2011 “The Whale,” one of the MacArthur Foundation Fellow’s most produced plays; Eric Coble’s 2010 “The Velocity of Autumn,” which went on to Broadway; and Robert Schenkkan’s 2006 “Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates,” which signaled the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner’s return to the stage after a decade.
“That means more to others than it does to the artists involved,” Blessing says. “It’s logical to hope that shows that start out at various conferences go on to success. But there’s a subtler thing at work. It’s more about forming artists than crystallizing success.”
Get artistic in Eagle
The second Eagle Plein Air Festival & Competition will turn historic Eagle and its surrounding areas into a working art studio.
More than 50 artists will set up easels and paint in the outdoors in the plein air tradition, from Thursday, June 2, to Saturday, June 4.
Registration ($35) at EaglePleinAirFestival.com ends at 5 p.m. Friday, May 27, but you still can compete for a $40 fee on the day of the event. Go to the website, print out the registration form and bring it with you to artist check-in at 9 a.m. June 2 at Finer Frames, 164 E. State St., Eagle, 888-9898.
You can see the finished artwork, find out the award winners and purchase art starting at 5 p.m. June 4 at Finer Frames. FinerFrames.com.
Spotlight Theatre’s ‘Chicago’
Glynis Calhoun’s Spotlight Theatre likes to take on challenging projects, such as 2014’s “Next To Normal,” a musical about mental illness. Now, the she and her crew will produce Kander and Ebb’s “Chicago – The Musical,” about a sophisticated romp through the antics of those Merry Murderesses of the Cook County Jail, Velma Kelly (Calhoun) and Roxie Hart (Laurel Bettis). The company blends professional and community artists.
7 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays, June 2-4 and 9-11, Columbia High School, 301 S. Happy Valley Road, Nampa. $12 general, $10 seniors. 869-0583, spotlight-theatre.com.
West Elm goes local
National boutique furniture retailer West Elm, 824 W. Idaho St., Boise, will feature eight Idaho-based crafters to offer locally sourced decor pieces in the store that is slated to open Thursday, June 9, in the former Anthropoligie spot.
You’ll find handcrafted furniture from Derek Hurd’s Studio 1212, fiber art from ALETHEIA DSGNS, logo items from Idaho is Love, stationery from Ladybug Press, postcards and prints by Melanie Folwell, decor pieces from Lost Little Things and Nystrom Goods and lotions and soaps from Puur Body.